Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I go into work at 6:30 AM

I have the luxury of a flexible work schedule.  Since I, and my dogs, are early birds, I get into work before 6:30 so I can leave by 3 or 3:30 (depending on lunch).

Any time I think about sleeping in, I remember that traffic gets worse and worse as the morning progresses.  And I haul my butt out of bed.

Now, grant you, I don't live in LA, or Chicago, or New York City.  So what I consider a horrible commute might be considered an easy day for someone else.

Still, I work 32 miles from home.  I leave home at 5:45 am and I pull into the parking lot at 6:20.  Not bad. I'd like a job closer to home, but not a horrible commute.

But if I don't leave for home at 3:30 pm or earlier, the trek home gets frustrating.  For the past 3 nights I've been running late and have been on the freeway at the 5 pm witching hour.

The stopping in the middle of the highway would be understandable if there was a police car, an accident, a dog on the freeway, a dead body.  But no, there is nothing discernible causing the slowdown except large numbers of cars.  And drivers who can't drive.

The section of freeway that took me 10 minutes in the morning, took 22 minutes last evening.  Yeah, I know not catastrophic.  But frustrating, nonetheless.

The transition from one highway to the next was a one mile long ramp.  It took 10 minutes to traverse.

Only a couple miles later, the cars had all spaced themselves out and we were traveling 70 mph.

I just don't get it.

But I do my best to avoid it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rescue Pets are Awesome

There is a new Tumblr created by Anne Wheaton where people can submit pictures of their rescued pets.
Rescue Pets Are Awesome

I submitted Bogie's picture a while ago and it was posted Friday.  (They've gotten so many submissions that it takes a while to get them posted.)

I was thrilled to see that 70 people liked the goofy photo of my boy.


This is the picture I posted, previously blogged here.

How can you not love that face?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bogie's First Training Session

Last night was our first session with a professional dog trainer.  I decided to get professional help after Bogie's latest escapade.  Bogie Escapes Yet Again

I had had it in mind for a while, but was waiting for the weather to cool off a bit.  That last escape accelerated my plans.  Anyway, last night we met with Shawn from Top Dog Boarding and Training.

The first session was mostly to get me to understand what was expected of me and of Bogie.  We went over door protocol.  One way to keep a dog from escaping through an open door is to train them not to exit until they are given permission.

Bogie did great.  Me, not so much.  It's a new behavior for me, too, and I kept giving the Break signal and the treat at the wrong time. All these changes are confusing enough for Bogie without me making it worse.

That's a big part of dog training - getting the dog owners to behave in a way the dog can understand.

Shawn's main goal for the session was to teach Bogie how to Down.  Now the part I hadn't realized is that the actions come first.  Once the dog understands the motions and expectations, then a word can be assigned to the action.

Shawn said Down is the hardest command for a dog to learn.  And Bogie didn't learn it.  At least not yet.  He tried.  He really tried, but he didn't understand what Shawn expected.

Bogie was getting tired and frustrated, so we stopped doing Down and worked on Sit.  Shawn prefers to teach Down before Sit, but that ship has sailed.  It was one of the first things I taught Bogie.

Of course, I've been doing it wrong.  The dog is supposed to get the treat not when he does the Sit, but when you release him from the Sit.  This eventually becomes the Sit Stay.  Because the dog Sits until released.

The hour session flew by.  Bogie and I were both mentally exhausted when we finished.  In fact, he slept most of the way home.

My homework, which I admit has me intimidated, is to work on the door protocol and the Down until next week's session.

I tried the Down a little earlier today.  Bogie just looked at me like I was insane.  It is clear that what seemed acceptable at Top Dog is going to be harder to implement at home.

We'll get it.  I hope.

Angel has Valley Fever

Valley Fever is a fungal disease common to Arizona and a few other dry areas.  It is said that you have either had, or will have, Valley Fever if you live in Arizona long enough.

For most people, it presents as a mild bout of the flu and they are subsequently immune to the disease.  But it can be severe or deadly in people with compromised immune systems.

Or animals.

It is a disease I am uncomfortably familiar with.  My Lhasa Apso, Rags, got it when he was 13 and died from complications of the disease.  The disease can attack different systems in the body.  Rags suffered from liver failure.

So when Angel started to cough, I was concerned.  We were at the vet anyway to have a fatty tumor checked out.  Just a fatty tumor, thankfully.  When I mentioned the cough, the vet suggested a Valley Fever test.

In case you wonder, why not just get a VF test every time you're at the vet?  It's not an inexpensive test -$125.  And Angel had been checked 5 months ago when she seemed lethargic.

The results take a couple days.  When it was the vet that called, I knew it was positive.  If the techs call, the test is negative.  It's a mild case - 1:8, where the scale goes all the way up to 1:256.  But it is still necessary to treat her with fungicide twice a day for three months - at minimum.  And she is not good at taking pills.
Valley Fever isn't contagious.

Bogie had to have been exposed at the same time as Angel, probably during a recent wind storm.  So I had him checked as well.  The tech called with his numbers - 1:2, exposure, but no symptoms.  I do recall a couple days when he didn't seem to be himself.  So maybe that was his bout of Valley Fever.

We got Angel's pills on the 11th.  You can't get them at CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart.  They have to come from a compounding pharmacy.  Luckily there is one close to my vet.

I'm worried because Angel is coughing more often than before. Nine days out of a three month regimen isn't a lot, but I expected her to not get worse.

Called the vet with the concern and said yes, she may get worse before she gets better.  But they are preparing a prescription for antihistamines for her.

Valley Fever - the scourge of Arizona.

Wikipedia Link
CDC page

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy sage bushes

I have Texas sage planted on the west border.  It gets watered rarely, only when I realize how long it's been since rain has fallen on my yard.  But the recent humidity and rain made the sage blooming happy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bogie escapes - yet again

Took Bogie for a walk this morning.  

We were doing so very well.  We kept up a good pace. He was behaving.  I was enjoying the walk.  

So I decided to walk farther than we have been lately.  Wen he turned at the next residential street, I didn't dissuade him.

BIG mistake.

We were only a quarter up the block when he saw a cat.  I let go of the leash to keep from being pulled down again, but even after the cat escaped, Bogie wouldn't come back. 

I fast walked, trotted another half block after him, trying to catch up, without inspiring him to play Run Faster. I kept wishing the leash would snag on a car tire, a shrub, a stake.  Anything. 

I was so scared that he would get away from me completely.  So afraid that he would get hurt or hit by a car.  Thankfully, it was a very quiet street, very early in the morning.  Still, a car had just driven past us.  

Then to my acute embarrassment, he encountered another person walking.  He ran to them, jumped on them, startled them, and scratched them.  Naturally, the man was upset.  He said I should keep my dog on a leash. 

Duh! Didn't he see the leash dragging behind?  But I didn't want to hear another chorus of "He's too big for you."  Mostly because it seems to be true. 

Bogie had gone about 10 feet away.  For some reason, he was facing me.  And this time when I called him, he came back to me. 

I was so angry. 

I heeled him all the way back to the house, berating him most of the way.  I threatened to never walk him again.  I threatened to never pet him again.  I threatened to let him get lost next time.

Meant all of it at the time.  But not really. Well, sort of.  But not really.

We picked up Angel, because she shouldn't be punished for Bogie’s mistakes.  I kept Bogie at heel the whole time as we walked around the block. 

I ignored him for a couple hours.  

Not sure he even noticed.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pigeon misjudgment

I was sitting on the patio yesterday after working in the back yard.  I wasn't trying to be subtle or quiet.  Both dogs were outside with me and had been for a couple hours.  

A pigeon flew down to land under the bird feeders.  It wobbled when it landed, as if it couldn't quite get its balance. 

It flew down right in front of Bogie. 

Fatal mistake.